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Lucy vs. Zehmer - Essay Example

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LUCY vs. ZEHMER 196 Va. 493; 84 S.E.2d 516 Supreme Court of Virginia (1954) 1. Statement of the facts Complainants W.O. and J.C. Lucy, brothers, filed a case for specific performance of a contract. The respondents were the spouses A.H. and I.S. Zehmer, friends of W.O…
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Download file to see previous pages The instrument the Lucys were seeking to enforce stated: “We hereby agree to sell to W.O. Lucy the Ferguson Farm complete for $50,000, title satisfactory to buyer.” It was written by A.H. Zehmer, and was duly signed by both A.H. and I.S. Zehmer. The defense of A.H. Zehmer was that he considered the offer of Lucy to purchase Ferguson as a joke, and at the time they signed the document both of the respondents were drunk. Zehmer also stated that while he did write the document, to him it was more of a response to a dare, as he did not believe that Lucy could afford $50,000, something he outrightly told the latter. In fact, although Zehmer wrote the contract, he did not deliver it, but Lucy picked it up, read it and put it in his pocket. At this point, Lucy offered $5 earnest money to seal the contract, but realizing he was serious, Zehmer refused to accept the money and instead told Lucy that had no intentions to sell Ferguson. On the other hand, Lucy contended that the sale was a done deal. He argued that at no time did he believe Zehmer to be joking. When Zehmer mentioned that Lucy would not be able to afford his price, Lucy assured him that he could. This was the reason Lucy immediately thereafter asked the help of his brother who agreed to share interests in the purchase. The lower court decided that Lucy had not proven his right to specific performance, and the case was dismissed. ...
However, if the contract remains valid, then the Lucys are entitled to its specific performance. 3. The court's decision on those issues The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that a valid contract had been created when the Zehmers set their signatures to the instrument, creating an obligation on either side to meet its terms as contained in the document. The claim of Zehmer that he was merely drunk, and at the same time only joking (i.e., did not really intend to sell), is not sufficient to invalidate the existing contract. The complainants are entitled to the specific performance of the contested contract. The decision of the lower court is therefore reversed, and the case is remanded. 4. The rationale the court used in reaching those decisions The Supreme Court decided that Zehmer’s contention that he did not really intend to offer his property for sale does not hold water. It is true that normally, the law of contracts requires that the parties to the contract mutually consented to it. However, given certain cases such as this one, it is not so important for the parties to mentally agree to the forming of the contract; what is important is that the acts and words of one of the parties convey the reasonable meaning of such intention to the other party, that is, that the parties appeared serious in their intent to transact (Patterson, p. 74). A binding contract of sale therefore existed between the two parties, whether or not the response of the Zehmers was serious or in jest, because one party (Lucy) made a serious offer, and took their response to be likewise a serious answer to his offer. “Intentions of the parties to a contract are determined by a reasonable interpretation of their manifest conduct and expression. Unexpressed ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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